Posted on 20 August 2012.
The anti RH Senator Juan Ponce Enrile recently came out to defend Senator Tito Sotto from the allegations of plagiarism. In his defense of Sotto, Enrile questions the use of contraception for preventing pregnancy, putting forward the question: “Is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured?”
“What disease does an IUD or a condom cure or prevent? I challenge the proponents to explain that to the public. Is not the purpose of these methods to reduce the population of the country,” Enrile asked. “In the case of a contraceptive pill, is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured? Why do we need to prevent it?”
While Enrile prefaces his question with the case of birth control pills I think its fair to extend his question to other forms of birth control as well. Why should some women need to prevent pregnancy if its not a disease?
Perhaps he would find the answer to this question easily if he just asked his fellow anti RH legislator in congress, Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay.
No Senator Enrile, pregnancy is not a disease but pregnancy always carries a risk to women’s lives. With medical advancements that risk has been mitigated but for some the risk still runs too high. For some mothers, becoming pregnant means risking leaving their families motherless. For some women, contraception is what they need to have a healthy sexual relationship with their husband while ensuring their own lives aren’t put in jeopardy by a pregnancy.
Beyond contraception, the RH bill has other measures to mitigate the risk of childbirth. It provides for more midwives to attend to births. The RH bill would give sex education and access to reproductive health services to the poor. If it survives the period of ammendments, the RH bill could provide mobile hospitals that can attend to the maternal needs of women further away from hospitals. All these measures can help lower the risk of childbirth.
Evidence also matters in legislation.
Enrile, you asked if pregnancy is a disease. No it isn’t. Yet pregnancy carries with it risks to the life of the mother. Sometimes a significant risk, as attested to by Mitos Magsaysay’s own ligation. We need to do better by the mothers of the Philippines. Look at how our maternal mortality statistics compares to countries around us in Asia. We’re doing very poorly in lowering our maternal mortality rate and according to the latest statistics from the Department of Health, our maternal mortality rate is on the rise again.
I find it hard to believe Senator Enrile isn’t aware of the risks to maternal health. Has he been ignoring the debates all this time? Has Senator Pia Cayetano’s level headed presentation of facts on the RH bill fallen on his deaf ears while he raptly pays attention to Senator Sotto’s crying and presentation of old data from the 70s? To Sotto’s presentation of questionable sources? And I find it astounding that Enrile can question some women’s need to prevent pregnancy while someone from the anti RH camp has done that very thing.
Image captured from ANC’s coverage of Enrile’s opening statements during the Chief Justice trial